Join Our Waitlist Event Passes Sold Out


“design retreat in the adirondacks” kinda sells itself right now.

Hey, fellow designers & creative team managers 👋

For years, we've heard that the discussions and connections made between the talks are what people value most about Create Upstate— so this year, we're flipping the conventional conference on its head.

Here's the plan: we're going to treat ourselves to the most Upstate thing ever (an Adirondack lodge ensconced in peak foliage) and — s'mores in hand — help each other out with some refreshingly transparent chats about how to help our design teams thrive for years to come.

You'll be in fine company: other agency & in-house leaders agree that this sort of summit has escaped our neck of the woods for too long. And to make sure the convos and connections are lasting and impactful, we're capping the event at 40 attendees.

Your team needs you here, as do we. So pack an Instagram-worthy sweater and let's do this.

what you’ll get out of this

Answers & insights from fellow Agency & In-House teams

A new friend or 40

A well-timed, creative recharge heading into 2023

Collaborative ideas & scenic inspiration

A post-event Slack community to continue our conversations

A new version of everyone's favorite Upstate NY Swag


Special Guest

Andy j. Pizza

Illustrator, Podcaster, Co-founder of Co-Loop

Andy J. Pizza is a Columbus, OH-based American illustrator working with clients like The New York Times and LEGO, and for picture books like “A Pizza With Everything On It” (Amazon’s Best Kid’s Books List 2021, Booklist Starred Review). His podcast, Creative Pep Talk, hosts guests like comedian Abbi Jacobson and poet Morgan Harper Nichols. Andy is also a storyteller, often pep talking teams at creative hubs like Warby Parker and Sesame Street.


Surviving Art Island

Anyone can attempt to tackle an inspiring opportunity, but the real reward is on the other side of the problems that simply seem impossible, or even just plain uninteresting to you. In my experience, if you can embrace the obstacle in your path, it will often fulfill your creative needs more than the thing you were seeking or thought you’d wanted at the start. If you frequently feel uninspired by the work on your plate, then pull up a seat and bring your appetite, because this creatively “nutritional” workshop session is for you!


Cozy CABIN Vibes

This year, we're partnering with Whiteface Lodge, an unapologetically Upstate home for our event. Few things will help you recharge like luxury rooms, amazing meals, and plenty of open air activities. Since everyone attending will be staying here, we'll take full advantage of everything our venue has to offer — which, judging by the photos above, is plenty.


Luxury Suites w/ Cast Iron Fireplaces

Indoor & Outdoor Pools

Hiking (and more!)

Views for Days


Mon Oct 3

  • 2-4
    Check-in / Opening Ceremonies
  • 4-5
    Agency Q&R: Design Process Tweaks for Better Vendorships Partnerships
  • 5-6
    Panel: The Art of Making 
  • 6-8
    Dinner & Free Time
  • 8-10
    Fireside Chats

Tue Oct 4

  • 7-9
    Breakfast & Free Time
  • 9-10
    Creative Warmup
  • 10-12
    Surviving Art Island Workshop & Q+A w/Andy J. Pizza
  • 12-4
    Lunch & Choose Your Own Adventure
  • 4-5
    In-House Q&R: Cultivating
    & Retaining Efficient Design Teams
  • 5-6
    Panel: It's OK If We Don't Collaborate This Time
  • 6-8
    Dinner & Free Time
  • 8-10
    CU ADK Party & Fireside Chats

Wed Oct 5

  • 7-9
    Breakfast & Free Time
  • 9-10
    Creative Warmup
  • 10-12
    Closing Ceremonies
  • 12-2
    Check-out/Optional Adventure Time


Reserve your spot for $1079

All you have to do is find your way to Lake Placid and we'll take care of the rest. Your room, full use of lodge amenities, meals, and every ounce of the retreat experience is included in your ticket.

Need help convincing your boss it's all worth it? Let us know!

Join Waitlist

Two-Night stay at Whiteface Lodge

All meals, drinks, and activities

Premium Create Upstate Swag

Invite to post-event Slack community






The more sponsors, the better the experience. C'mon and help us go all in on this.

sponsorship opportunities


Wait, what happened to the 300+ mega event Create Upstate used to be?

While we can't say for certain if we'll do another one of those, we've been smitten with the idea of a smaller, leadership-focused event since 2017. That, combined with a strong desire to go hard on all-things-Upstate-NY, led us to a non-conference format at a location we likely couldn't bring 300 people to.

If this doesn't quite seem like your cup of tea, that's OK! Thanks for your patience as we continue to find ways to bring our community together and empower them to do great work. We're hoping those who attend find this to be a refreshing remix of CU.

Who should attend?

If you're a designer or someone who manages them, you'll be in familiar company. The topics we'll discuss will center around working in teams, process, creativity, career arcs, etc. We don't intend to get in the weeds about apps or software how-to's, so if you're up for some high-level, spirited, and honest shop talk, this is the event for you.

That said, there's ample opportunity to have side conversations about Figma, Pantone, etc. Just know those won't be the core takeaways of our event.

Attendees will likely skew towards the following: multi-disciplinary, mid- to Senior-level, and located in the Northeast US (but don't let any of that stop you from making the trip!)

What's foliage?

Hoo boy it's possible you're actually not ready for this, but we'd love to show you the magic of Fall in Upstate NY so come on up here.

Do I have to stay at the hotel?

Yes—we're requiring our attendees to stay at Whiteface Lodge. Your ticket includes a two-night stay, and we feel it's important to have everyone on-site and sharing in the experience at one location. It also helps us coordinate our schedule, and perhaps most importantly, provides everyone access to Whiteface Lodge's amazing meeting areas, activities, and more.

How do rooms work?

We'll be staying in Whiteface Lodge's luxury suites, and we have a variety of configurations available. For our two and three bedroom suites, each has a common area with separate, private bedrooms. Upon ticket registration, we'll ask you for your room-type preference, where you can also request to share a suite with a specific attendee (teammate, long lost best friend from CU past, etc.). We'll confirm your room in the days following your registration, and we'll make every effort to accommodate everyone's preferences—though we'll need to work on a first-come/first-serve basis. Once certain room types are booked up, we'll remove such options from registration.

So... COVID.

Create Upstate will follow CDC Guidance to ensure a safe experience. We need your cooperation to ensure success. We cannot guarantee that our participants, volunteers, partners, or others in attendance will not become infected with COVID-19. Participants and volunteers agree to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. By participating in this event, attendees release and waive any and all liability, claims, and demands related to COVID against Create Upstate. 

We will require proof of vaccination prior to the event. If you are not vaccinated, we ask you to provide proof of a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 3 days of the event.

Attendees are asked to BYOM (bring your own mask). This is a preparatory measure and we will follow local and venue rules and guidelines at the time of our event. If at any time you are not feeling well, please take care of yourself and others by staying in your room and notifying a Create Upstate team member. Anyone who is uncooperative with local or venue safety guidelines will be asked to remove themselves from all event activities without refund.

Like many events that have had to pause these past few years, we've worked incredibly hard to make this happen safely in 2022 — we ask that you join us in respectfully prioritizing the health and safety of others. If guidelines change prior to the event, we will be sure to communicate them with all attendees.

Can I get a refund? What happens if you cancel?

If you are unable to make the event, here's how refunds will work:

  • Prior to June 1: Full Refund
  • Prior to July 1: 50% Refund
  • Prior to August 1: No Refund

In all cases where you need to cancel after August 1st, we will work with you to find someone to transfer your ticket to (but cannot guarantee this outcome).

In the unlikely event we need to cancel the retreat, all tickets will be refunded their full amount or credited to a future event (depending on the circumstances of the cancellation). Given the nature-y nature of the event, we will not cancel for inclimate weather.

What are you doing for attendees from under-represented backgrounds?

More on this soon, but we feel strongly that the best version of this event will be comprised of attendees from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, if your economic circumstances prevent you from attending this retreat, or if you're a company looking to sponsor someone's ticket, please get in touch.

Who's speaking this year?

Again, Create Upstate ADK represents a shift from the traditional conference format. We're providing ample space & platform for attendees to discuss specific challenges and lend insights to one another. Whether it's panels or informal fireside chats, we're excited to see what comes out of this kind of "summit".

That said (!), we have a few surprises up our sleeves and will be announcing a special guest or two to help spark inspiration. Stay tuned...

Why are tickets so much more than previous years?

Since this is a retreat, the venue plays a central role to the experience. Your CU ADK ticket covers the cost of a two-night stay at one of Upstate NY's premier hotels—which is why the ticket price looks the way it does. We understand this is by no means a trivial professional development “expense”, and like previous years, we're on a mission to make sure the experience far exceeds the investment.

Can I make periodic payments on my ticket?

Yes! Please reach out and we'll work with you.

How do I get to Whiteface Lodge?

By car: Whiteface Lodge is located at 7 Whiteface Inn Ln, Lake Placid, NY 12946. Carpool!

By plane: the nearest airport is Albany International, which is a two hour-ish drive to Whiteface Lodge.

What should I pack?

Once we confirm all activities and participants, we'll send an email with a recommended packing list.

OK, last thing. Do you have a Code of Conduct?

Sure do: All Create Upstate attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at our retreat are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event.

The Condensed Version
Our conference is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of conference participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any conference venue, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter and other online media. Conference participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled from the conference without a refund at the discretion of the conference organizers.

The Less Condensed Version
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

Sponsors are also subject to the anti-harassment policy. In particular, sponsors should not use sexualized images, activities, or other material.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the conference with no refund.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of conference staff immediately. Conference staff can be identified as they’ll be wearing branded t-shirts and/or labeled badges.

Conference staff will be happy to help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the conference. We value your attendance.

We expect participants to follow these rules at conference and workshop venues and conference-related social events.

Original source and credit: & The Ada Initiative
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License


Oh, there will be updates. Catch all of our speaker, panel, and activity announcements leading up to the big field trip to the Adirondacks.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.